Internship was an enriching experience

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 14, 2015

By Jade Lomax

Cooperative Extension Intern

Working alongside the agents at the Rowan County Cooperative Extension office this summer was an extremely enriching and fun journey. I learned so much about Extension and agriculture in general just from the 10 weeks that I interned there along with three other interns.

Starting off the summer, I worked with Danelle Cutting, local foods/horticulture agent, and other agents from surrounding counties at the Piedmont Research Station to complete the ongoing broccoli trials that began in the spring of 2015.

We were able to harvest broccoli and learn about different varieties that were planted, how the weather affected them, and what a hollow heart, buttoning and bolting looked like.

We were also able to make trips to many different farms around the county, including Huffman’s Peaches, a blueberry farm and many other locally owned operations, learning about how they functioned and what they did on a daily basis.

Throughout the weeks, we worked with the Southern Piedmont NC Farm School and went on a couple field trips to surrounding counties to see their farm operations and try local foods. I attended a few business meetings with the farm school and got to sit in on a couple of individual meetings with aspiring farmers to find out their plans for the future and how they wanted to start their own farm or improve their current operation.

Along with horticulture, I learned about and helped with 4-H Summer Fun programs that went on throughout the summer. I helped with America the Beautiful, Vet for a Day, Farm to Fork and Happy Tails Alpaca Farm programs that taught campers about agriculture and local farms.

I wrote an article for the Salisbury Post about the trip that we took to Lazy 5 Veterinary and Large Animal Medicine and Surgery for the Vet for a Day camp.

When I was with Danelle she taught me many basic skills that she learned throughout her college years and from her time being an Extension agent. We were given actual plants or pictures of plants that someone had sent in and didn’t know what was happening to their crops, whether it had a disease or fungus, and whether it would survive.

Our task was to try and figure out what had happened to the plant and what could be done about it. Using the tools from the NC Extension website, we diagnosed the problem and presented it to Danelle to see if we were right, and if we were wrong, she would explain what was wrong and how to solve the problem. I learned about many diseases affecting crops and even trees throughout Rowan County.

One of my main projects at the office this summer was to conduct a short research study on the six chickens outside of the office. I came up with a research plan and for one month I measured the weight, circumference, diameter and length of each egg that was laid to note any difference between the breeds of chickens.

This project gave me a little insight on what it was like to collect data for a research project and then put the data into a spreadsheet and be able to provide information on what the data showed.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time working at the Rowan County Cooperative Extension office this summer and getting to meet so many people and farmers throughout the county.

I couldn’t have asked for a better group of agents and interns to work with who were able to teach me so much about Extension that I didn’t know before. I know that the things I learned this summer will help me succeed throughout my career and will stick with me for a lifetime.